Locum Work! One of the biggest decisions of your Medical Career!

Is locum work right for me? Many of you are probably asking yourselves that question right now! Deciding to do locum work is no easy feat, regardless of whether you’re a GP, ANP, ENP or an EMT.

When making a decision we’ve always found that weighing the pros and cons lead to better, well thought out solutions. Making a career decision is no different. If you are currently working in a permanent position perhaps it would be a good idea to weigh up the benefits and downsides of working in your current position. Do the negative aspects outweigh the positives? Perhaps it’s time for a change then.

What to do next? Consider your options! If you are considering doing locum work maybe it’s time to do some research. If this is an unfamiliar area for you it can be a bit overwhelming but there are various medical recruitment agencies that support medical staff through the process of transitioning from working in a permanent position to doing locum work.

Or maybe you’d only like to do part time locum work while staying employed in your current position. You have this option too. It is important to find an agency that understands your individual situation and needs. At Primary Care People, we’ve always tried to treat our candidates as individuals because we understand that all our candidates are unique and decide to do locum work for different reasons.

Making that final decision to do locum work can be both exhilarating and nerve-wrecking. If you have decided to do full time locum work you are probably considering all the exciting opportunities that will now be available to you but we’re sure you’re also wondering ‘what if everything doesn’t go to plan?’. This is completely understandable which is why we’ve decided to give you a run-down of the pros and cons of doing locum work.

We believe that two of the main reasons why our candidates choose to do full time locum work is because of the independence and flexibility that comes with this role. You now have more control over the hours you work, the days you work and even the locations and roles you work in. It’s understandable why our candidates find this so appealing, particularly those with family commitments.

Did you know that you can also earn higher wages when you do locum work? What’s more, if you register with a locum recruitment agency they can handle all negotiations with clients for you, so you don’t have to worry about how to get the rates you require. If you sign up with the right agency they will ensure that you earn the best rates for your hard work and commitment. At Primary Care People we always negotiate competitive rates for our candidates. We are dedicated to building mutually rewarding relationships.

Locum work gives you the opportunity to gain valuable experience in a number of specialities. If you are newly qualified but you are still unsure about the area you want to specialise in you can sign up for locum jobs in a number of different areas so you can figure out what area of medicine you are passionate about. Conversely, if you have worked in an area for a number of years locum work can be the change you need to explore new areas of medicine, rediscover your passion or develop your areas of expertise further.

Equally, our candidates also raise their worries in regards to locum work. One of the questions we are never surprised to hear is “will I have enough work to support myself?”. Well the medical recruitment agency is currently booming and there is high demand for locum work. This may not always be the case but there are alternative options here as you can take up a permanent position at any time if there is a decline in available work. If you don’t want a full time position there is also the option to work part time. You are not tied into locum work so you can always go back to permanent work if you have concerns over pension, maternity and sick pay.

When you decide to do full time locum work you are considered to be self-employed and this is sometimes viewed as a disadvantage as you would have the responsibility of taking charge of your own accounts and paying your taxes and so on. But this can also be a positive change as you will have more control over your account and more awareness of funds coming in and out.

Some of our candidates also worry that they will feel very isolated doing locum work as they won’t have a permanent base or access to any support systems. This can be alleviated by working most of your shifts at a small number of establishments you enjoy working at. Moreover, you have the option to become a regular member of staff at these facilities while maintaining your locum status and rates. If you are registered with a recruitment agency they can also be an additional level of support. At Primary Care People, our clients and candidates are viewed as being a part of our team and we hold an open forum for concerns.

Finally, it is clear that a number of factors need to be taken into consideration when deciding to do locum work. As with many decisions, there are negatives and positives factors. But is clear that the positive elements off doing locum work far out way the negatives. What’s more, if you are registered with a good recruitment agency, they can work to ensure you have regular work and competitive rates doing the work you are passionate about.

Doctors encouraged to opt out of EU directive and work longer hours. Are we heading back to square one?

The Working Time Regulations (WTR) implemented by the EU in 2009 has been subject to a lot of negative feedback recently. The directive, which limits doctors to working 48 hours per week has not been received well since it was implemented in 2009. However, of late, doctors have been proactively encouraged to opt out of the directive. There has even been talk of opting out of all the EU social and employment legislations in place currently.

Are we heading back to square one as junior doctors are encouraged to opt out of the EU directive and do longer shifts? That’s the question that’s on many of our minds. The reasons why the initiative was brought into effective in the first place should not be forgotten. Doctors were working over 100 hours per week which in turn had a negative impact on their performance. Tiredness and fatigue were a direct result of the excessive working hours.

Logically, one would think that reducing the number of hours worked would reduce fatigue and stress. Conversely, it’s been claimed that the reduced working hours have increased fatigue due to poorly organised rotas and shift patterns. An article in the Telegraph concurred that the new hours were exhausting to work and were unbalanced from week to week. But it appears that the problem is not the directive in place but rather the way in which it is being implemented. Perhaps better planning and organisation would resolve these problems, as opposed to encouraging doctors to start working long hours again which could be detrimental to patients.

Moreover, despite the fact that many of these articles give the impression that most junior doctors are unhappy about the directive, this may not be the case. The BBC highlighted a recent survey which found that 82% of young doctors struggle with the excessive hours they work. This was backed up by a piece written by a junior doctor in the Telegraph which highlighted that many doctors complained about falling asleep in theatre due to long, tiring shifts. The directive is therefore seen as a step in the right direction that has saved the lives of many patients.

A valid argument was put forward that less hours would mean that young doctors would not get as much training as they would if they were working longer hours. However, it appears that a key issue has not been taken into consideration. If doctors are too tired, are they really going to benefit from the additional training? This will leave us with poorly trained, burnt out doctors who will be more likely to make mistakes. Significantly increasing the number of hours worked is not the answer to this training issue. Better management of training schedules should be the main area of concern.

While there is the option to opt out of the directive, junior doctors should not be pressured into working more hours. They should be encouraged to make good judgements on whether they are physically able to take on additional work. The EU directive is in place to protect both, the doctors and the lives of the patients they treat.